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A gyre (sense 1.1) or whirlpool, one of the Naruto whirlpools regularly seen in the Naruto Strait, Japan.
A map showing the five major oceanwide gyres (sense 3); from left to right, they are the Indian Ocean, North Pacific and South Pacific, and North Atlantic and South Atlantic gyres.

Etymology 1[edit]

Borrowed from Latin gȳrus (circle; circular motion), from Ancient Greek γῦρος (gûros, circle; ring), from Proto-Indo-European *gew- (to bend; to curve). The English word is a doublet of gyro and gyrus.[1]


gyre (plural gyres)

  1. (chiefly literary, poetic)
    1. A swirling vortex.
    2. A circular or spiral motion; also, a circle described by a moving body; a revolution, a turn.
      Synonyms: circuit, whirl
  2. (anatomy, zootomy, archaic) Synonym of gyrus (a fold or ridge on the cerebral cortex of the brain)
  3. (oceanography) An ocean current caused by wind which moves in a circular manner, especially one that is large-scale and observed in a major ocean.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Late Middle English giren (to turn (something) away; to cause (something) to revolve or rotate; to travel in a circle),[2] from Old French girer (to turn), and directly from its etymon Latin gȳrāre, the present active infinitive of gȳrō (to turn in a circle, rotate; to circle or revolve around), from gȳrus (circle; circular motion) (see etymology 1)[3] + (suffix forming regular first-conjugation verbs).


gyre (third-person singular simple present gyres, present participle gyring, simple past and past participle gyred) (literary, poetic)

  1. (intransitive) To spin around; to gyrate, to whirl.
    Synonyms: revolve, rotate
    • 1605, Michael Drayton, “[Songs from the ‘Shepherd’s Garland’.] From Eclogue ij.”, in Cyril Brett, editor, Minor Poems of Michael Drayton, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Clarendon Press, published 1907, →OCLC, pages 240–241, lines 4–8:
      The host of heauenly beautyes moue, / Depainted in their proper stories, / As well the fixd as wandring glories, / Which from their proper orbes not goe, / Whether they gyre swift or slowe: []
    • 1871 December 27 (indicated as 1872), Lewis Carroll [pseudonym; Charles Lutwidge Dodgson], “Looking-glass House”, in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, London: Macmillan and Co., →OCLC, page 21:
      Jabberwocky. / 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wa[b]e; / All mimsy were the borogoves, / And the mome raths outgrabe.
  2. (transitive, rare) To make (something) spin or whirl around; to spin, to whirl.
Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ gyre, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020; “gyre, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ ǧīren, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  3. ^ gyre, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020; “gyre, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]

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  1. vocative singular of gȳrus